, , , ,

 photo DSC_2246.jpg

One slow weekend we decided to check out Takayama-sha, a site in Fujioka linked to the old way of producing silk, namely the care and cultivation of silkworms, and the harvesting of their cocoons to make silk. Takayama is one of four places in Gunma relating to silk production that has been submitted as a set for consideration of the World Heritage Society to become a protected Heritage site in 2014. If the application goes through, Takayama as well as three other old-style buildings across Gunma relating to the beginning stages of silk production will be acknowledged as important to the historical production of silk and will help bring tourism to Gunma. So Fujioka is trying to promote these places by passing out flyers and advertising it.

 photo DSC_2236.jpg
A lot of the signage is new, but not in English yet. However the gist of it is that the building was used for breeding and cultivating silk worms, as well as for research purposes and as a training center for the greater area.

 photo DSC_2237.jpg  photo DSC_2238.jpg  photo DSC_2241.jpg
Heading up towards the building, it seems like a lot of structural clean-up work has been done

 photo DSC_2242.jpg
Plaque proclaiming it an important cultural resource to Gunma

 photo DSC_2244.jpg
The building

 photo DSC_2248.jpg  photo DSC_2255.jpg
We got a tour through the downstairs rooms where training and living was done

 photo DSC_2254.jpg
Including some preserved records of temperature versus growth of the silkworms through the year

 photo DSC_2258.jpg
We were the only two there, and got lucky enough to go to the upstairs area, which is usually not open since it is pretty rickety

 photo DSC_2260.jpg  photo DSC_2263.jpg  photo DSC_2261.jpg
This is where the silkworms were kept and cultivated. The old newspapers were really interesting! Very drafty though

 photo DSC_2265.jpg
There was something significant to this pit, but I can’t remember what it is…

 photo DSC_2251.jpg  photo DSC_2249.jpg  photo DSC_2250.jpg  photo DSC_2252.jpg
These are the four candidates submitted as a group to the World Heritage site people. The first one is Takayama-sha, the second the big brick silk mill in Tomioka, which is pretty famous in its own right, the third is a school in Isesaki dedicated to teaching about the care of silk worms, and the fourth is a storage area (like the pit above but natural) in Shimonita.

It was a really interesting experience to go see it, and I definitely want to visit the other three too!

Next we went to Takenuma, a lake nearby since we were in the area.

 photo DSC_2270.jpg  photo DSC_2293.jpg
There were lots of stray cats

 photo DSC_2279.jpg  photo DSC_2280.jpg  photo DSC_2282.jpg
And roubai flowers… in English this is called allspice or wintersweet according to google. Roubai are the first flowers to bloom in the new year, usually from about mid-January to mid-February. They smell REALLY good and are strong, although the flowers aren’t much to look at.

After that, Kenji wanted to go get a haircut in Fujioka, so I walked around to some of the shrines nearby to practice using my wide angle lens on the camera.

 photo DSC_2295.jpg
Kenji translated this sign, so I took a picture for him

 photo DSC_2297.jpg  photo DSC_2298.jpg
And of the temple attached to it!

 photo DSC_2299.jpg  photo DSC_2300.jpg
Lanterns and sazanka, another winter-blooming flower

 photo DSC_2305.jpg  photo DSC_2314.jpg
Playing with the wide-angle lens

 photo DSC_2317.jpg  photo DSC_2321.jpg  photo DSC_2323.jpg
Perhaps having a bit too much fun with it…

 photo DSC_2326.jpg  photo DSC_2340.jpg
Aaand that’s it!